The death of a beloved 87-year-old singing coach who succumbed to injuries she sustained after a woman pushed her from behind in what authorities describe as an ‘unprovoked and senseless random attack was ruled a homicide, according to police.
The NYPD has shared the update on Barbara Gustern as they continue to track down her attacker, who eluded police for nearly two weeks.
The department released new photos of the suspect on Friday that provide the clearest look yet at the woman wanted in the March 10 nighttime attack on a sidewalk near West 28th Street and Eighth Avenue in Chelsea.
Gustern was within walking distance of her home around 8:30 p.m. that evening when cops said the woman attacked her. No words were exchanged in front of him. And the attacker just seemed to walk away afterwards.
Gustern fell and hit her head, suffering traumatic brain damage from which she would not recover even if she survived, authorities and the woman’s grandson said.
She ended up dying five days after the attack.
NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig made an impassioned plea last week as he sought the public’s help ‘to solve this disgusting and shameful offense against a vulnerable elderly woman who was just walking the streets from New York”.
Police have posted flyers around the neighborhood offering a $3,500 reward for any information that helps them find the woman seen in the surveillance video. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.
An 87-year-old grandmother and remarkable Broadway voice coach is now clinging on to life after being pushed to the ground outside her home in Chelsea. Reporting by NBC New York’s Jessica Cunnington.
According to the New York Times, Gustern was an acclaimed vocal coach who once helped train rock singer Debbie Harry and the cast of the 2019 Broadway revival of the musical “Oklahoma!” A neighbor said Gustern performed on Broadway herself, along with her late husband.
Stephen Shanaghan, who owns Manhattan restaurant and theater Pangea, called Gustern “a seasoned, smart and shrewd New Yorker.” Shanaghan said Gustern had recently performed there and had hoped to create a new cabaret show there.
“They sing and tell stories, it’s very heartwarming. And they’ve done several different shows here,” Shanaghan said.
Police are looking for a woman who allegedly pushed an 87-year-old woman from behind without warning in Manhattan last week, knocking her over and hitting her head and sending her to hospital with traumatic brain injuries, according to authorities and the woman’s grandson.